A Peacock spider - photo Norm Morrison 1981

Early record of a Peacock spider

Peacock spider behaviour report N.Morrison 1981

Peacock spider behaviour report N.Morrison 1981

We have all got excited about Peacock spiders, having been introduced to them by Stuart Harris who has led surveys on our last two BioBlitzes (a new variety was discovered at last year’s BioBlitz at the Four Winds site)and shared his experiences at our Christmas Celebration.

However, it appears that some people have known about these beautiful beasties much earlier. Norm Morrison shared a report he wrote about thier behaviour, and I have just had the slide he made translated to digital, so we can share it with you.

Here is Norm’s paper and the image he took then

A Peacock spider - photo Norm Morrison 1981

A Peacock spider – photo Norm Morrison 1981

Octopus consuming Triton

Octopus’s Garden in the making…

This Octopus [ Octopus tetricus ] dragged the Triton towards his hole until it disappeared ,no doubt that the triton will be part of the octopus’s garden now.

There were several ‘gardens’ in the area ,some were tidier than others and one octopus was sharing with a large 11 armed Seastar [ Coscinasterias muricata ]or was it not a friendly  arrangement ?


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Blue tide ...Porpita porpita

Blue Tide Creatures

On Our trip to Lennards , we found Porpita in a pool & a few days later I found a few more creatures of a Blue tide .

p1050221 Porpita float dark side up so as to blend with the ocean from winged predators & pale side down so as to be camouflaged from predators underneath. dscf2213Velella velella or ‘by the wind sailor

Glaucus atlanticus  [ sea lizard]  & Janthina janthina  [Violet Snail ] also float on the surface [makes its own float as it doesn’t have a sail ] & are predators of the Physalia  [Bluebottles ] which are the most commonly sighted members of a Blue tide.

If anyone has a reasonable picture of a Blue Dragon I would like to include it .They are found on the rock faces underwater ,they also steal functional components from other organisms.dscf2017 img_9480

Creatures of a Blue Tide

Creatures of a Blue Tide


Channel -Billed cuckoo

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No colour prejudice here !!

This 2 Channel-billed chicks are being reared by a Raven.These huge cuckoos are the largest of all parasitic birds and so has to find large host species with eggs of a similar size  …in this case the raven ,the chicks were already bigger than their carer !

They are a migratory species & breed in Australia in Spring & Summer.

Ascidian, Botrylloides magnicoecum, sighting Liz Allen, photo Libby Hepburn

Lennard’s Island rock pool search

Happy new year from everyone on the Atlas of Life team.
The water’s good for snorkelling now and there are lots of sea hares in the lagoons. Do let us know of any interesting finds that we can put on the website and Facebook page and do keep adding your sightings to the Atlas’ new recording platform – it’s easy and looks great.

We are fortunate that Michael McMaster has offered to lead a rock pool reccie at Lennards Island next Thursday January 12th at 2pm.
For those of you who are interested in talking about what things we would like to do this year as a Marine Group, please join us at 12 noon at the main Eden road Tip, turnoff (for car Pooling, the track is only suitable for 4 wheel drive cars) and we will set off at 12:10 for Lennards with a 2pm start for the rock pool exploration.

Ascidian, Botrylloides magnicoecum, sighting Liz Allen, photo Libby Hepburn

Ascidian, Botrylloides magnicoecum, sighting Liz Allen, photo Libby Hepburn

Red Bait crab, Plagusia chabrus

Red Bait crab, Plagusia chabrus

Lennards is our favourite rocky shore as it always turns up interesting and unusual things. Last year we found a soft coral so who know what we might find this year. This is a low tide, so we will be able to reach places that are usually inaccessible.

The track down is rough and the walk down to the beach steep, so please wear appropriate shoes and clothes /hats etc and bring sunscreen and insect repellant as usual. Please contact Libby with any queries. 02 6495 0917. There will be a map on the Atlas Facebook page.
All good wishes,

Grey Fantail on nest

Grand Designs for some ?

I f you look carefully you will see the grand designs of the Red capped Plovers at Mogareeka,normally they have their sandscrape [nest  ] in the middle of the beach with virtually nimg_9597o cover .These have chosen upmarket designs   .

The beach nesting birds will sometimes choose a little vegetation or sticks as cover but don’t seem to have the intricate designs of our bushbirds .like the incredibly beautiful nests made by the Grey Fantail in the featured image.   RedCap plover sandscrapeimg_9609

baby Pigmy possum  photo Mandi Stevenson

Baby Pigmy possum

We just had our AGM where we talked about one of Andrew Morrison’s projects which is instaling nestboxes for Pigmy possums in areas like Tura Beach where they are short of hollows for their homes. When she arrived home Mandi Stevenson found this baby on her doorstep. Luckily Alan Scrymgeour knew what to do and collected it to deliver to Wires who know how to care for such lost infants.

baby Pigmy possum  photo Mandi Stevenson

baby Pigmy possum photo Mandi Stevenson

Hopefully it will be released back into the wild when it is old enough to survive on its own.

Scarlet on Scarlet

Atlas of Life AGM Saturday December 3rd

Scarlet on Scarlet

Scarlet on Scarlet

You are invited to the Atlas of Life in the Coastal Wilderness AGM on Saturday 3rd December at 10.30am at the Merimbula Wharf Restaurant.

We have had an exciting year with the launch of our new NatureMapr recording platform, our recent very successful Four Winds BioBlitz and another Atlas Photocompetition with extremely high quality and range of entries – thanks to all who entered and our three expert judges. This lovely image of Scarlet honeyeaters by Maggie Clowes.

We are ready to plan our activities for next year and would like everyone who is interested in the local natural world, on land and along the coast to join us.

As an entirely community  project we welcome anyone who has time to contribute in areas they are interested in whether that is suggesting and running field trips, snorkels and walks, helping with the website, database and social media or helping through the committee. There are many things we could do and we offer the things that people are interested in helping with, so your passion will be welcome.

2016 Atlas of Life AGM Agenda

10.30am – Welcome to country

Minutes of the 2015 Atlas of Life AGM

Chair’s report

Treasurers report

Election of Office bearers and Committee

Any other business



Christmas Celebration Supper – December 15th

It’s that time of year again and we would like to get together to celebrate what we love about nature and how we explore it.
We invite you and your friends to the Atlas Christmas Supper on Thursday December 15th at the Wharf Restaurant Merimbula, 6pm for 6:30.

Sally and Anthony are offering us a splendid festive menu and we have sparkling entertainment for you. We will have the exhibition of images and records from our recent BioBlitz at Four Winds, and the superb winning pictures of the 2016 Atlas photocomp.
This year the theme for our Celebrations is “the New Science” and we have the story told in pictures and words of the young Poyner family and we also welcome Stuart Harris to share his exploration of the small but exquisite Maratus, or Peacock spiders which have become the centre of his life’s journey in the last decade.

Everyone is very welcome. Tickets are $50 and $17 for children. Please reserve your places with Libby or Alan. We will be please if you can pay directly into the Atlas bank account. Please put your name in the reference box so we know who has paid what.

BSB 032 704  Acc no. 209626  Many thanks, Libby

White flowers – photo by Harrison Warne – can anyone identify them? Harrison is a herpetologist and hasn’t got his flora ID up to speed yet. Thanks Harrison, it’s a lovely image for Christmas

an unknown Peacock spider found by Helen Ransom at the Four Winds BioBlitz 
Photo Stuart Harris

Peacock spider found at Four Winds BioBlitz

The 2016 Atlas of Life and Four Winds BioBlitz on Friday 11th and Saturday 12th November was blessed by unexpected good weather and a number of exciting finds as well as art and music. 0ver 90 bird species were spotted, Koala scat was found and a possible new species of spider was recorded by Helen Ransom from Narooma on a survey led by Stuart Harris. The spider has been sent to experts for identification and in time we will know if it is indeed a new species.

an unknown Peacock spider found by Helen Ransom at the Four Winds BioBlitz Photo Stuart Harris

an unknown Peacock spider found by Helen Ransom at the Four Winds BioBlitz
Photo Stuart Harris

90 school students from across the Shire explored with Bournda EEC and a host of families and friends attended the bioBlitz from 6 am until late after dark when the moths, possums and night creatures had come out. 65 surveys were led by expert scientists and naturalists to explore and record the Four Winds site and nearby forest and beach habitats to build the biggest species list possible over two days.

The waterbug team led by Cecil Ellis and Steve Skinner had fun observing what range of creatures are living in the dam on site and they visited a site on the Murrah river not far from Four Winds that had been a Reference site in the 1980’s. We were delighted to record that the water is still very healthy, with a few of the key target species that indicate the highest level of water quality.

Steve Williams came all the way from Bendigo to see our NSW moths and found a number of species he had never seen before. Andrew Claridge and David Jackson showed how to set small mammal traps and Andrew Morrison set camera traps and they recorded a host of creatures – goannas, echidnas, antechinus and a fox, all looking for food near the cameras.

Four Winds provided the fabulous setting for the BioBlitz, Masterclasses in botanical illustration and photography and a splendid concert by Four Play string quartet to finish the week-end off.


A big thanks to all Survey Leaders and Volunteers and everyone who joined us to participate and who made the event such fun. Together we are building a significant species list of what lives here now and we will return from time to time to see how the biodiversity has increased ast the Four Winds planting program adds to the mix of habitats on their site.

As yet unidentified Maratus (Peacock spider) found by Helen Ransom Photo Stuart Harris

As yet unidentified Maratus (Peacock spider)
found by Helen Ransom 12th november 2016
Photo Stuart Harris